My first JCI Encounter:2012 JCI Mauritius National Public Speaking Competition

30 Mar

A few hours ago, as I sat down at my favourite bar to sip a cold and crafty pint of some Danish beer, I took a moment to make sense of the rollercoaster day I just had.  Clearly it has not been one of my usual Saturdays.

OK. Let me explain to you what actually happened today. It will not take long I promise.

Considering that for once, happy hour was a resounding success last night, I woke up in a pathetic state this morning. I was trying to get hold of myself to get ready for work, when it hit me. I had some JCI public speaking competition to attend to later. ‘Oh dear lord I am not ready for the competition’, would be the very politically correct and non-offensive way of describing the words I uttered to myself at that very moment.  I forgot to dry clean my suit, I had no clean shirt, my hair was inexplicable and yes: I HAD NO SPEECH PREPARED.

After breezing through breakfast and while running around the house to look for my car keys, I tried desperately to formulate a speech in my head so that I could limit, to a minimum, the inevitable embarrassment which will befall me in less than five hours. On my way to work, I came up with a plan of action. I would not quote any historical figures; I shall not mention any complicated statistics and I will not seek to promote a debate through my speech. My plan of action was a recipe for disaster.  Nonetheless I had poise and my confidence was growing.

My legendary poise and herculean confidence took a massive blow when, five hours later, I arrived at the meeting room of the Municipality of Port Louis dressed in the same suit and shirt I wore yesterday. There, in front of me, was a group of my fellow contestants all well prepared and dressed in their Sunday’s best. At that very moment, I realised that this competition would be no piece of cake and that I would have to up my level considerably to have a very remote chance of competing.

The theme of the competition was whether young people had a role to play in determining the future of communities, countries and the world at large. Now, I made up my mind right from the start, that I would not use any quotes from any historical figures because I wanted to deliver something which was my own piece of work. I was probably wrong, but I wanted to take that risk. I also had a few bullet points printed on a piece of paper, which I typed just after work today. A few hours later, these bullet points would prove to be my saviour.

Whilst sorting out my mess, I noticed how each participant was neatly dressed, rehearsing their speeches and eagerly awaiting the moment they will stand up and prove themselves to their friends and the jury. It was a delightful sight and it also made me realise how a competition such as this one could help towards the development of young citizens. I must confess that JCI got it right again. Having said that, one common sight among all the participants, including myself, was that, we were all shaking with stage fright.

The much awaited moment finally arrived. We were allocated numbers which would determine our speaking turn and I was drawn to be the 13th speaker. This meant that I had an agonising two hours to wait, whilst twelve of my fellow contestants would each be facing the jury and the lively audience. When my name was called, my first reaction was to run away. However, today I was representing JCI Curepipe and together with four other friends, we were a team. I had an epiphany. I wanted to win for the team. More importantly, I wanted JCI Curepipe to win even though I was not to be the winner.

Making my way to the microphone, I knew by now what I had to deliver. I chose a short sharp and strong message with no quotes and no statistics.

‘Young people have the right to contribute towards the development of their society but under the supervision of elders and JCI can help to achieve that.’

This was my message and I delivered it in six minutes. I must confess that I included one quote in my speech though; it was from Spiderman, so it really does not count.

Finally, after seventeen speeches, the jury retired to deliberate on the results while all the rest of us helped ourselves to much needed refreshments.  It was also the time for all the contestants to congratulate each other for a job well done and yet, it was obvious that all of us had one thing in our minds: THE RESULTS

We were all given a nice certificate of participation and had our pictures taken with one of the big names of JCI Mauritius. The restlessness then reached a boiling point when the Head of the Jury took the microphone.

Second Runner Up: Bhavna Fowdur from JCI Curepipe. I was happy as it was a clear recognition for an amazing performance from such a young talent.

First Runner Up: Arjun Mohit from JCI Quatre Bornes. I was gracious. This guy was really good and he did his speech with no paper in hand.

Winner: Yudish Bisnatsingh from JCI Curepipe. I went beserk.

I made my way towards the Jury and the National President to shake their hands and lift the winner’s shield. It was a pity that I did not get the opportunity to address the audience because it would have given me the opportunity to thank JCI Curepipe for their help and encouragement and also to let them know that I am dedicating this victory to them.

The happiest day of my life is clearly the day I got my first kiss from one very unlucky girl fifteen years ago. However, today the 24th March 2012 most definitely earned its place in the top ten greatest days of my life and I have only the JCI Curepipe Family to thank for this.

A quote comes to mind to describe my day, but those Danish beers are failing my memory. So I’ll catch up some other time.

Yudish Bisnatsingh
Aspiring Member


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  1. Murielle

    March 31, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Encore une fois toutes mes felicitations Yudish!